Bangkok, Thailand... not much between despair and destiny...

We have decided to take it easy and just go straight to Bangkok. It would be great to see some more of Thailand, but our time is quickly running out. After much research, Greg found a reasonable hotel for a reasonable price. We had been originally thinking of staying in the old city, but we were told that we should really stay near a skytrain station if we want to get anywhere. They were right.

Traffic jam in the streets of Bangkok from the skytrain station.
The pool on the roof of our hotel
We arrived and took the bus and skytrain into town and found our hotel. It is very nice and we were lucky to find it. This week is Chinese New Year, and the city is packed with Chinese tourists. We went for lunch, but the place that the hotel had recommended was not so good. I asked them to bring me the same thing the man at the next table had, because it looked good. When it finally came, it wasn't even similar. She took so long to bring the food that the man was done his food, so I couldn't show her, and she just said that what she brought me was what he was eating. His had had tons of leafy green vegetables and a rich brown sauce. Mine was orange coloured and had a few green peppers… Greg ordered something where the meat was inedible and the rest was kind of disgusting. I saw the same dish later in another restaurant and it looked much better there. This experience was a little frustrating for us, because we had kept hearing how good Thai food was. I am not sure how this restaurant stays open, or why the hotel staff would recommend it.
The canal area was our next stop. It is interesting because it is like a small village in the middle of the city. There are wooden houses and small streets. The canals did not look or smell very friendly though. 

The Canal area has little streets with vendors - like a small village.
Chinese Dragons for Chinese New Year - I wish we had been here for the parade!
Little wooden houses in the Canal District
Greg wanted to take me to a nice restaurant, so we went to look at the menu at a couple of the rooftop restaurants. We estimated that it would be quite easy to spend about $400 on a meal there, and quite difficult to spend less than $200. I wasn't interested in spending that much on one meal. We did find a rooftop restaurant at the top of the Marriott Hotel that was lovely and we ate for about $70 - which included four mixed drinks and wagyu beef.

View of Bangkok from the rooftop restaurant
Greg and I at the top of the world!
View of Bangkok from another rooftop restaurant
The next day we decided to see the Palace. We arrived along with 300,000 Chinese tourists. It was a very pretty palace and had an entire giant sculpture of Anchor Wat inside the grounds.

Lots of gold on this palace
For lunch, we decided to eat at the food court in the shopping mall. This food court brings in the best of the best street food stalls, so that you can eat street food in a sanitary environment. We had great meals - very tasty. I recommend going if you find yourself in Bangkok.

We had booked a two hour dinner river cruise for that evening. We were supposed to be picked up at the hotel at 6pm. After several phone calls to the tour operator, who assured us the driver was on his way, our driver finally arrived only about 45 minutes late. We had two more stops to get more people and we finally reached the port about 7:30pm. We stood around in the office for about 20 minutes, waiting with a group of other guests and then got issues stickers and tickets and went to the docks, and waited there for another 20 minutes. Finally the boat arrived at about 8:15pm and we got on. The boat was already filled with people and the food was picked over and most things were cold - like the rice and meat dishes. Greg started to get concerned, and thought that they had started. We ate our food, as we passed by the illuminated buildings of the old city. It took us about 20 minutes or so to eat, and then we went up on the top deck. We took a few photos, and Greg said that he thought the boat was heading back to port. I scoffed at this, because it was a two hour tour and we had only been out for half an hour. He was right. They had picked up the other people on time. We were getting a very short tour and cold food. In the end, the company refunded our money to us, so I have no complaints and would recommend them because they did try to fulfil their commitment and they did refund us. We did make friends with a French couple who were in the same boat as us. We went out for drinks after the cruise fiasco and had a great time.

going under a VERY low bridge on the "two-hour" cruise
Our last day was Saturday. Bangkok has the world’s largest market on Saturdays. It was really great and we stayed there all day, and probably only saw a tenth of it. Before we went back to the hotel, we decided to take a walk through the red light district. It wasn’t that exciting. We didn’t go inside any of the bars, even to see the ping pong shows that the guys on the street kept trying to convince us to go to. For me it is just a sad place of lost dreams. We did get a coupe of really good shawarma on the street though!

The world's biggest market
Coffee shop at the market
A little street side bar - we definitely need these in Toronto to replace the hot dog carts at night.
Of course right beside the street bar, they sell women's undergarments, guns and sex toys... I'm sure this is not a good combination... just wrong in so many ways. Welcome to Bangkok.
At midnight my stomach started to rumble. Greg had already been trotting back and forth to the bathroom all day while we visited the market. I think Greg set a new record of trying out every bathroom in the market-place that day! My stomach didn't get better. By morning, I wasn't even sure how I was going to make it to the airport. I was feeling a tiny bit better as I gave Greg a final hug and got in my taxi. Our airports were on opposite ends of the city. Greg is flying to Hong Kong, and then back to Toronto, and I am flying to Mumbai. I always have to be different. Everybody else comes home from India with food poisoning, I will be arriving with it. 

When I arrived at the airport, after a somewhat tense taxi ride, I found a nice spot beside a bathroom and sat down to wait for my flight to board. 

“You can’t fly”, the flight crew said. My stomach clenched again. “You need to have a return flight, or a flight out of India already booked to enter India”. Well good, I thought, at least they hadn't noticed how sick I was. “I don’t know where or on what day I will fly, I want to take a train out of India, no one said anything when I booked my visa or flight, my husband’s flight has already left, the wifi is not strong enough here to let me book an exit ticket” I started firing responses at her with a well acted state of panic. I didn’t have to act out the sweating and shaking, the friendly Bangkok bacteria were helping me with that. They saw I was distressed and chatted amongst themselves. I looked as scared as I could, with the “You can’t leave this poor helpless woman alone in Bangkok look”. Finally they looked at me. “Do you have a credit card and cash, enough to buy an airline ticket if India denies you entry, you must show us”. I showed them one of my credit cards and some of the US cash I was carrying. The nodded. “You must sign a waiver”. I nodded. “If India denies you entry, our airline is not responsible for you”. I nodded again, grasping at the paper and pen that they held. I snatched it up and could hear my stomach gurgle in a big bad way, I needed to sort this out soon, really soon. I glanced very briefly at the waiver “we can abandon you”, “don’t have any responsibility”, “No financial commitment” whatever, signed. “Do I have a minute to run to the bathroom before I board??!!” I asked.